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Five Burning Questions: Bad Bunny Makes History With His No. 1 Album Debut

What does Bad Bunny’s first No. 1 album represent to modern Latin music? And which song from El Último Tour del Mundo could follow in the footsteps of “Dákiti”? Billboard staffers answer these…

On this week’s Billboard 200 albums chart, Bad Bunny crashes in at No. 1 with El Último Tour del Mundo, which earns 116,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in the week ending Dec. 3, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. More importantly, Bad Bunny’s first No. 1 album is also the first all-Spanish-language album to reach No. 1 in the 64-year history of the all-genre chart.

El Último Tour del Mundo is Bad Bunny’s third full-length of 2020, following the Puerto Rican superstar’s YHLQMDLG (which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200) and Las Que No Iban a Salir (No. 7 peak). Meanwhile, “Dákiti,” his El Último Tour del Mundo smash featuring Jhay Cortez, climbs to No. 5 on this week’s Hot 100 chart.

What does Bad Bunny’s first No. 1 album represent to modern Latin music? And which song from El Último Tour del Mundo could follow in the footsteps of “Dákiti”? Billboard staffers answer these questions and more below.

1. Bad Bunny’s El Último Tour del Mundo has become the first all-Spanish album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200. On a scale of 1-10, how significant is that specific accomplishment?

Andrew Unterberger: Let’s say a 7.5. The accomplishment itself is of course major, but it’s hard to rate it as an eight or higher because it’s not even a real new peak for Bad Bunny, let alone all of Latin pop — his YHLQMDLG album actually put up much better first-week numbers (179,000 equivalent album units to 116,000 for El Último), but just had the misfortune of debuting the same week that Lil Baby’s My Turn juggernaut bowed at No. 1. It’s one for the record books, no doubt, but it just shows how major Latin pop in general, and Bad Bunny in particular, have gotten over the last few years, that they could make this history without even a career-best showing.

Griselda Flores: A 10 for me! As Leila pointed out in her column, he’s shattered one of the last glass ceilings. It took nearly 20 years for another Latin artist to score a No. 1 on the Billboard 200 — it hasn’t happened since Jennifer Lopez’s sophomore album, J.Lo. But not only is Bad Bunny a Latin artist that hit No. 1, but his all-Spanish album hit No. 1 — that’s what makes this accomplishment so significant. The idea that Spanish music sells, that people and the industry are embracing Spanish-language music, that cultural significance is major; it further cements the idea that “we belong,” and that language is no longer a barrier to scoring a No. 1.

Jason Lipshutz: A 9, at least. Although this achievement is long overdue, the timing of the first all-Spanish No. 1 album doesn’t make it any less significant. Bad Bunny has spent 2020 racking up commercial wins and gaudy numbers, and El Último Tour del Mundo debuting at No. 1 is likely the most impressive one of all.

Jessica Roiz: 10! 10! 10! The fact that a Latin artist was able to achieve this milestone with a Spanish-language production speaks volumes about the current dominance of Latin music. This accomplishment represents many things for la cultura and is a great inspiration for aspiring artists. You can top charts, win awards, and become a global pop star all while singing in your own language and creating music on your own terms. Bad Bunny is proof of that.

Leila Cobo: It’s a 10! I’ll quote what I wrote in my column yesterday: The claim is a huge win for Bad Bunny, but more so for a Latin music industry that for decades has seen its artists systematically undermined by the mainstream media and by the industry overall unless they sing in English or collaborate with a mainstream act. Bad Bunny, who in the past 24 months has been tearing barriers down one by one — most recently he was crowned Spotify’s most streamed artist of 2020, the first Latin act to do so — has shattered one of the final glass ceilings: The notion that an album only in Spanish could become No. 1 on the U.S.-based Billboard 200 chart.

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2. There have been multiple major Spanish-language albums released over the past few years — including a few by Bad Bunny himself. What do you think was the biggest reason El Último Tour del Mundo was the one to land the historic No. 1?

Andrew Unterberger: Again: timing, mostly. There was no My Turn to go against this week, just Miley Cyrus’ Plastic Hearts — which had an impressive No. 2 showing with its 60,000-unit debut, but that marks something of a rebound for Cyrus, who hasn’t been performing at the current commercial level of Bad Bunny or Lil Baby since her Bangerz peak. Still, in terms of why it’s Bad Bunny in general who keeps paving this new ground, it’s mostly because both his magnetic star power and genre-spanning sense of musical adventurousness keep expanding from album to album — making his third album of 2020 just as captivating as his first.

Griselda Flores: Timing. We weren’t ready for a Spanish album to be No. 1 then. Let me clarify: we were ready, but not the non-Latin community. Since “Despacito,” more people have been paying attention to Latin music, which has expanded beyond Latin America. That build-up to get where we are now is what propelled Bad Bunny’s No. 1, in addition to his ever-growing popularity, considering the No. 2 debut he scored with YHLQMDLG earlier this year. It was only a matter of time before Bad Bunny topped the list — this was the right moment, and he did it with a really great album.

Jason Lipshutz: Bad Bunny’s momentum has had a snowball effect throughout 2020, in which critics increasingly supported him, his streaming numbers kept multiplying and, even though he dropped a ton of music, he never seemed to reach a point of over-saturation. Once “Dákiti” became a top 10 hit on the Hot 100 prior to the release of El Último Tour del Mundo, it was clear that demand for a new Bad Bunny project — his third of 2020 — would remain high. And even with a few bigger projects to compete with near the top of the Billboard 200, including a new Miley Cyrus album and a recently released BTS full-length, Bad Bunny’s commercial might was just too much to deny him the No. 1 spot.

Jessica Roiz: It’s a no-brainer that people love Bad Bunny because, as I’ve previously mentioned, he makes music on his own terms — he’s not afraid to collaborate with lesser-known artists, to experiment with new genres, or to keep it real in his lyrics. A lot of people discovered his music with the release of YHLQMDLG, and by the time this album came around, everyone was already waiting for it. I also feel that TikTok has influenced the way this album has performed on streaming platforms. Every other video that appears on my “FYP” is a Bad Bunny song from El Ultimo Tour del Mundo.

Leila Cobo: On the one hand, momentum has been steadily rising for Latin music, and it has snowballed. Interest in Latin music –which we define as music performed predominantly in Spanish — is at an all-time high. But also, the paradigm has changed. For a while now, the notion that one doesn’t need to sing in English to “cross over” has been building, aided by streaming and access to music anytime, anywhere. Prior to the explosion of streaming, Latin acts never had the same distribution, the same radio airplay, the same media coverage or presence, the same award show nominations or appearances as mainstream acts, even when their global music sales merited it. Add to that the fact that Bad Bunny is a unique, fascinating artist with enormous appeal and digital presence, and you have a perfect storm.

3. Bad Bunny’s YHLQMDLG album, released in early 2020, has appeared on multiple year-end album lists (including Billboard’s). Do you think El Último Tour del Mundo tops it?

Andrew Unterberger: I don’t know if it’ll top it in the public memory, since YHLQMDLG had the advantage of coming first and hitting with the shock of the new (as well as a more stacked guest list). That’ll probably be the album his 2020 is most remembered for, but for my money, El Último is the stronger set — tighter, more focused, with fewer big-name guests and a greater sense of both Bad Bunny’s personality and increasingly singular (and increasingly alternative-skewing) musical aesthetic. In that sense, it’s good that this was the one to give him his first No. 1 album — it ensures at least one way where it won’t be historically overshadowed by its predecessor.

Griselda Flores: This is a hard question – one I’ve been debating with friends since El Último Tour del Mundo dropped. I think they’re very different from each other. YHLQMDLG is packed with back-to-back perreo/reggaeton hits. It’s a party album. This new one finds an emotional Bad Bunny experimenting with alt-rock sounds. I wouldn’t say El Último Tour del Mundo “tops” YHLQMDLG, because the albums are on different ends of the music spectrum. I will say that I personally can’t get enough of YHLQMDLG, and out of the two that one is my favorite, but that’s not to say it’s better than El Último Tour del Mundo.

Jason Lipshutz: I’m still settling into El Último Tour del Mundo, but it’s going to be hard to unseat YHLQMDLG as Bad Bunny’s crowning achievement from a creative standpoint: it’s his most complete statement to date, a 20-song opus that crystallizes his sonic restlessness and magnetic personality with few if any redundancies. YHLQMDLG represented a new watermark for Bad Bunny as an album artist upon its release, and it may stay in the top spot for a while.

Jessica Roiz: Musically, yes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m obsessed with all 20 songs on YHLQMDLG, but on that set, and even on Las Que No Iban a Salir and X 100Pre, we hear a lot of what got Bad Bunny on the international map: trap, reggaeton, and perreo, with some fusions here and there. On El Ultimo Tour del Mundo, he went all out in terms of rhythms and melodies. He was not afraid to lace his essence with alternative rock and synth-pop, and the result is innovative and edgy. I dare to even say that with this album, Bad Bunny might have set a new trend in Latin music for 2021.

Leila Cobo: I admit I still have to spend more time with El Ultimo Tour. As of now, there are tracks I enjoy hugely: “La noche de anoche” with Rosalia, and I love “Maldita Pobreza,” which sounds more like a rock track, and actually works!

4. “Dákiti,” featuring Jhay Cortez, is already a top 10 hit from El Último Tour del Mundo. Which other song from the album do you think could follow it as a hit?

Andrew Unterberger: I’m rooting for “Yo Visto Así,” which splits the difference between trap banger and pop-punk rager like no song I’ve quite heard before. But more likely might be “Sorry Papi,” an ABRA collaboration with a Weeknd sense of night-vision synth-pop, or “La Noche de Anoche,” a Rosalía teamup that feels like wish fulfillment for fans of the two universally acclaimed artists.

Griselda Flores: Hands down, “La Noche de Anoche” with Rosalía. It already made its debut at No. 7 on both the Billboard Global 200 and Billboard Global Excl. U.S. charts. The track features two of Latin’s most exciting and innovative acts that we hadn’t seen collaborate before, and you get both strong lyrics and great hooks. It’s an attractive song, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes the next big hit.

Jason Lipshutz: “Sorry Papi” sounds like a crossover smash that fits in with the darkly lit pop aesthetic that’s currently succeeding at top 40 radio. And as a fan of its featured artist, Atlanta singer-rapper ABRA, I’m hoping it leaps off the El Último Tour del Mundo track list and becomes a breakthrough.

Jessica Roiz: There’s so much to pick from! “Te Mudaste” without a doubt has that commercial reggaeton sound, and “Sorry Papi,” featuring newcomer ABRA, could easily become the sequel to “Yo Perreo Sola.” But I would place all bets on “La Noche de Anoche,” a collaboration with Rosalia that was long overdue, and fans are really happy with the outcome. The song is a conversation between two people who are reminiscing about their unforgettable night together. It’s sultry, it’s nostalgic, and it gives you all the feels.

Leila Cobo: I think the next big hit is “Yo Visto Asi.” The video is incredibly clever, and the cameos are fun.

5. For a second straight year, Bad Bunny is the Top Latin Artist on Billboard’s 2020 year-end chart. Considering how prolific he is, do you think he could dominate 2021 and go for the three-peat?

Andrew Unterberger: Easily. Bad Bunny is unquestionably at the top of the mountain right now among global Latin pop stars, and he seems motivated not just to hold his perch but to keep finding new heights to climb to. If he wants it next year, it’s gonna take a Herculean effort from one of the other rising stars beneath him — the previously mentioned Rosalía, or Karol G, or Sech, or “Dákiti” collaborator Jhay Cortez — to even have a chance of taking him down.

Griselda Flores: Oh, for sure! Bad Bunny is innovative and unpredictable. Which is why he constantly has us on the edge of our seats waiting for his next project. Whether you like the guy or not, Bad Bunny’s got everyone wrapped around his finger, and is not letting go just yet.

Jason Lipshutz: There are a handful of Latin music stars who seem primed for big years — Rosalía, Camilo, Tainy and Karol G among them — but Bad Bunny is on an absolute roll, and could very well release another album (or three!) in 2021. He’s got the championship belt, and until he shows any signs of slowing down, it doesn’t make sense to bet against him.

Jessica Roiz: In a heartbeat! Word on the street, however, is that he’s “retiring from music” after El Ultimo Tour del Mundo, but I strongly believe this is only part of his strategy because as he himself expressed in his song “Booker T,” he’s at his peak. I’m not quite sure how he plans to top his successful 2020 in 2021, but for some reason, I feel that this is only the beginning for Bad Bunny.

Leila Cobo: If he continues to produce albums at this pace and with this mindset, most definitely. Bad Bunny has been astute in not over-extending himself with other collaborations and singles, concentrating on his own material and releases. Yes, he released a full album with J Balvin and also was featured on two Anuel AA tracks. But other than that, he’s limited his collaborations, and that has raised his allure. Fans know they have to wait to get something from him.